When recruiting new staff there could be opportunities to consider a contract that enable advertising teaching post across two schools e.g. if both schools needed a part-time member of staff then there would be the opportunity to consider advertising for a full time teaching post which would probably encourage more teachers applying for the post and recruiting a strong candidate. Recruitment and retention is a big issue nationally. There are schools out there that are heavily relying on agency staff at present.
1. Transparency over finance- concerns were raised over allocation of budget and how the MAT will safeguard against improper allocation of funds or inflated salaries (which has been publicised in the media over the last 12 months).
The MAT will be run as a non-profit making organisation. Governors recognise there have been inflated salary stories seen in some academies, this will not be the case in ours. Salaries will reflect the job description of the member of staff within the academy. Monthly monitoring of school budgets at present are in the public domain and it is our intention that accounts would continue to be available to the public. Our aim is to streamline back office costs, building costs and where possible pool skills and look for ways to reduce costs of services and other resources through negotiating for three schools.
2. Without the LA monitoring the governance/ financial management what independent body would manage this, and if parents had a complaint to make about the school where would parents go to escalate their concerns?
The normal complaints procedures for the early stages of managing a parent complaint would remain for each individual school, that is to speak to the class teacher and then if concerns continue write to the headteacher and then the Chair of the school’s local governing body. Should the response not satisfy the complainant then the Board of Trustees and Members of the Trust should be written to. Should the complaint still not be responded to effectively parents can write to The School’s Area Commissioner for the South East. OFSTED also receives complaints and if there is a safeguarding concern they can act immediately by making an unannounced inspection of the school. The MAT would provide guidance to all parents on how to make a complaint.
3. Concerns over absorption and ‘blending’ of the schools/ Homewood aren’t the only secondary option for Tenterden Juniors.
It is the intention of the Governors of all schools in the MAT that the individual schools will maintain their own identity, ethos and values. We understand that Homewood is not the only school that primary pupils will move onto in Year 7. The vision in terms of maintaining and developing a creative and engaging curriculum is to enhance the primary experience for pupils. This will benefit all pupils no matter what secondary school they attend in the future. Our aim is to make every child ‘secondary school ready’, by becoming confident, resilient independent learners. By encouraging a more partnership approach in curriculum development and monitoring of the impact of teaching, we believe this can be achieved.
The schools have already developed some good partnership actions through the Tenterden Rural Alliance. We want to build on this good practice.
4. Tenterden Primary Federation has always had an 'open voice approach' to parents- will this be at the very least maintained/ how can we safeguard a continual parent dialogue? How can we strengthen it?
Each school has its own parent groups and means of engaging with parents. This will continue. St Michael’s PTA would continue to raise funds for the children of The St Michael’s CEP. There may be an opportunity where PTA groups decide to organize a joint fund raising event for something specific but that would be for the PTAs to decide in the future.
5. With 2.5 years of discussion and planning across the schools, why are parents only now being consulted/ informed of these plans.... Several voiced that a 10 day dialogue timeframe following last night’s presentation was too short, what about parents who couldn't attend.... How will they get this info/ have a chance to ask questions?
The Governors of all schools have worked to achieve agreement from all necessary parties for a multi-academy trust before presenting their intentions to parents and carers. The Governors have followed the guidance on communication to parents and carers and the recommended timescales. Parents and carers are encouraged to send any further questions to Governors in writing before 30th June 2016. The School will publish the presentation and the Q and A responses from this meeting on the school website.
7. Why aren't parents allowed to vote?
This process is one that is decided by Governors with agreement being sought from The Local Authority, Canterbury Diocese and The Secretary of State. This has been achieved. All governors of all schools unanimously agreed that forming a MAT was the best decision for the safeguarding of a good education for our present and future pupils. In addition all Headteachers are in agreement that this is the best way forward for schools. The consultation is to explain to parents the reasons for making this decision and answering any concerns or explaining any unknowns parents and carers have. Balloting is not a required action.
Governors do not want any parent to feel undervalued in this process. We value your responses in helping us make a move to a Multi Academy Trust. Together we will continue to shape the future of the education for our children in Tenterden. By making the decision to form a MAT and continuing to work in partnership with parents, we believe we have secured a good long-term outcome our schools.